Quote of the day, 14 September: St. Edith Stein

The cross is again raised before us. It is the sign of contradiction. The Crucified looks down on us: “are you also going to abandon me?”

The day for the renewal of vows should always be one of serious self-examination. Have we lived up to the promises made in our first fervor? Have we lived in a manner befitting brides of the Crucified, the Lamb that was slain?

In the last few months, one has often heard the complaint that the many prayers for peace are still without effect.

What right have we to be heard? Our desire for peace is undoubtedly genuine and sincere. But does it come from a completely purified heart? Have we truly prayed “in the name of Jesus,” i.e., not just with the name of Jesus on our lips, but with the spirit and in the mind of Jesus, for the glory of the Father alone, without any self-seeking?

The day on which God has unrestricted power over our hearts we shall also have unrestricted power over his.

If we ponder this, we will no longer dare to judge anyone else. But neither will we be discouraged if, after living in the Order for a long time, we must admit we are still bunglers and beginners. The fountain from the heart of the Lamb has not dried up. We can wash our robes clean in it even today as the thief on Golgotha once did.

Trusting in the atoning power of this holy fountain, we prostrate ourselves before the throne of the Lamb and answer his question: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (Jn 6:68).

Let us draw from the springs of salvation for ourselves and for the entire parched world. Give us the grace to speak the bride’s words with a pure heart: “Come! Come, Lord Jesus. Come soon!” [Rev 22:20].

Saint Edith Stein

The Marriage of the Lamb: For 14 September 1940

Stein, E. 2014, The Hidden Life: hagiographic essays, meditations, spiritual texts, translated from the German by Stein, W, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

Featured image: The Isenheim Altarpiece is one of the most complex and inspiring artworks created at the end of the Gothic era. Sculptures by Niclaus of Haguenau and larger-than-life paintings by Matthias Grünewald are featured in this multi-paneled altarpiece for the Monastery of St. Anthony in Issenheim, near Colmar, France. No single gallery label or description can do this massive work justice, so we present the most famous view of the altarpiece: the Crucifixion.

The Isenheim Altarpiece is displayed in Colmar at the Musée Unterlinden; here is an excerpt from their online gallery label:

Between 1512 and 1516, the artists Niclaus of Haguenau (for the sculpted portion) and Grünewald (for the painted panels) created this celebrated altarpiece for the Antonite order’s monastic complex at Isenheim, a village about 15 miles south of Colmar. This polyptych, which decorated the high altar of the monastery hospital’s chapel until the French Revolution, was commissioned by Guy Guers, who served as the institution’s preceptor from 1490 to 1516.

Consider the fact that this marvelous treasure decorated the monastery chapel until the French Revolution; isn’t it a miracle that it survived the anti-Catholic horror of the French Revolution? This is all the more amazing since it was located in a monastery that was suppressed by revolutionary decree, much in the same way that the Carmel of Compiègne and all other Carmelite monasteries of nuns and friars were suppressed.

But after having survived the Revolution, the altarpiece became a pawn in the political struggle between France and Germany. The artwork’s liberation came during World War II when United States Marine Corps Reserve Captain Marvin Chauncey Ross from the U.S. Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives Program (better known as the “Monuments Men”) discovered the Isenheim Altarpiece in the cellar of a chateau and returned it to Colmar. It is the pride and joy of the Musée Unterlinden.

Art historian for homeschoolers Kelly Bagdanov offers an excellent description of the altarpiece that blends both fact and faith in beautiful harmony.

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